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New master’s degree unique in New Zealand

New master’s degree unique in New Zealand

Innovative work-based learning programmes to be launched in Auckland

In a first for New Zealand, Otago Polytechnic is launching two innovative, high-level qualifications designed specifically to be undertaken in the workplace.

The Master of Professional Practice and the Graduate Diploma in Professional Practice will be offered throughout New Zealand through the Polytechnic’s subsidiary, Capable NZ, using its highly-regarded work-based learning (WBL) model. This approach allows undergraduate degree holders who are in full-time employment (paid or unpaid) to gain a graduate or postgraduate qualification at work.

Media are warmly invited to attend the official programme launch and information seminar at 4.45pm on Thursday 7 February at Otago Polytechnic’s Auckland campus, Level 2, 350 Queen Street.

“Work-based learning recognises that the workplace is a rich learning environment,” explains Programme Leader Richard Kerr-Bell. “The new graduate and postgraduate qualifications begin with individuals identifying a strategic challenge they’re facing in the workplace. This could range from entering a new market to developing better systems or addressing an issue in their organisational culture. Addressing and resolving this challenge becomes the basis of their high-level study.”

The foundation of the WBL method is a tripartite agreement between the learner, their employer and Capable NZ. This agreement usually consists of a combination of work-based projects, mentoring and online resources. The result, says Kerr-Bell, is a high-level educational opportunity that precisely addresses real-world needs.

Otago Polytechnic Chief Executive, Phil Ker, says the institute is proud to be at the forefront of WBL in New Zealand. “We are delighted to offer these advanced, innovative Professional Practice qualifications and look forward to welcoming our first candidates in 2013. These programmes exemplify a truly liberating approach to education. By shaping qualifications around the needs of learners and the needs of employers, we can be truly creative and responsive as educators – and that’s exciting.”

The graduate diploma and master’s degree are the latest in a suite of qualifications to be offered through the work-based learning format at Capable NZ, which include undergraduate degrees in social services, culinary arts, applied management and design. The process starts with appraising the skills and knowledge learners have gained through their career and other life experiences against formal academic criteria. Candidates gain credit for this knowledge, and then undertake additional projects and assignments to complete the qualification.

As learners work towards their qualifications, they are required to present evidence of their learning to Capable NZ facilitators and assessors for evaluation.

“This method benefits not only the learner, but workplaces as well,” explains Kerr-Bell. “Since its inception in the UK more than two decades ago, work-based learning has revolutionised the ways in which employers develop knowledge within their organisations. Because learning agreements are negotiated and constructed in partnership with employers, they are tailored with their development needs in mind as well.”


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